How to Take a Good Selfie

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To

How to Take a Good Selfie: Tips and Tricks!

How to Take a Good Selfie

Maybe I’m an everyday voyeur, because I sure do enjoy seeing pics of people go about their business on Instagram (here’s me).

It’s interesting! Even the boring stuff, because it’s happening all over the world. Breakfast in Hong Kong, lunch in Toronto, drinks in New York. Every day I get to visit with people’s pets, accompany them on vacation, and indulge in cheat meals (without the calories, whee!). πŸ™‚


I also get a kick out of seeing so many self-portraits, or selfies. Makes me feel like I’m right then and there.

As someone who’s taken her share of blurry selfies, I can tell you that a sharp, cool self-portrait isn’t always as easy as point and click, especially in bad lighting. You’d think it would be pretty simple, right? Just smile, point and click.

In a moving car with a camera phone? Uh, not exactly.

But we have tips! Here are some things you can do to take a fantastic selfie.

Double-check your hair and makeup

How to take a good selfie

Before you actually take your selfie, hold your camera right out in front of your face, straight on, and snap a quick test shot of your hair and makeup.

I do this all the time, not just for selfies, but whenever I finish my makeup. Even better than a mirror, seeing a picture helps me tell if my brows, liner, blush and eyeshadow are even. A test shot can help you target areas that need fixing.

While you’re at it, glance at your clothes to make sure your bra straps aren’t peeking out or your collar’s wonky.

Choose a clear background

How to take a good selfie

I remember reading an Us Weekly article at the salon a while back (my guilty pleasure!) about Tori Spelling’s husband posting a pic on Twitter with Tori’s naked breast in the background.

Not that you’re going to have boobs hanging out behind you in your selfie, but there’s a lesson here. Always check your background before you post pics.

Look for solid colors, like walls, to stand in front of, and de-clutter. Move laundry baskets and messy piles of books — anything you don’t want the world to see. For serious! I can’t tell you how many cute selfies I’ve seen with bras hanging in the background.

I try to find a nearby wall or textured curtains. Generally, the less cluttered your background, the better.

Don’t move a muscle

How to take a good selfie

Do your iPhone pics always look blurry? It’s usually caused by camera shake, which happens when you tap the shutter button while the phone is moving. Even the slightest shake or wiggle can produce a blurry pic, especially in dim light.

Hold your phone as steady as possible. Here’s a trick I borrowed from sharp shooters…

Right before I press the shutter, I take a breathe, exhale and hold for a couple seconds. Very still. Then I tap the button.

Find your light

How to take a good selfie

Lighting is everything! It can make all the difference in your selfies.

Try taking your pic facing a window — the bigger the better — but out of direct sunlight. Avoid standing with your back to the window or another light source, as that can cause something called backlighting, where you look like you’re silhouetted in the shadows while the background is super bright. Direct sunlight, especially around midday, is powerful and harsh, and can exaggerate any blemishes or skin imperfections.

What you want is diffused lighting, which is super flattering. If you can, find a room with multiple windows on different walls.

Or just head for your car.

Have you ever noticed how some of the best selfies are taken in cars? It’s because of the nice, diffused lighting from all the windows.

Take a ton of shots!

How to take a good selfie

No, seriously. I usually take anywhere from 10-20 shots, sometimes 30, to get the one I want. In each one, I’ll strike a different pose, part my hair differently or do a different expression.

Most of the pics turn out pretty crappy…but out of every 20 or so, I’ll get one, two or three I really like.

Shoot from above!

I can’t remember where I heard this tip, but generally, it’s more flattering to shoot with your camera held slightly above your eye level or higher, so that you’re looking up into the lens.

Sometimes when you shoot from below, it can make you look like you have extra chins.

Strike a pose

How to take a good selfie

How to take a good selfie? Have fun!

Aaaaand this is where you get rewarded for watching all of those America’s Next Top Model marathons.

First things first: work your angles. Holding the phone at 12 o’clock directly in front of you can make your body look static and boxy. Position your head at different angles, and turn your body slightly to the left or right. It looks more dynamic and can make you look thinner.

Also, if you’re concerned about dark circles, try slightly tilting your chin upward, which makes those circles look softer.

Now, elongate your neck. You know how Miss J is always telling the models not to lose their necks? That’s the idea. The trick is doing it without looking strained.

If you’re feeling playful, bust out a fan and work your hair! That’s a good way to get some really fun pics. πŸ™‚

Run it through a filter

How to take a good selfie


That’s one of the coolest things about Instagram. The filters! Lots of them soften fine lines and imperfections. I like the ones that also brighten. My favorites are Valencia and Rise.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. And then there’s that scourge of photography lovers everywhere, the DMV! For help with that ever-important picture ID you have to show people all the time, check out my latest Gloss Daily post, How to Take a Good Driver’s License Picture.

P.P.S. Have you ever had a really fantastic DMV picture that made you swell with pride?


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 29 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. camille says:


    I still won’t join Instagram, no matter what goodies you tell me about, that are on it! LoL.

    Thanks for this πŸ˜€ I haven’t taken a selfie that I posted, in a while. But if I want to send a snazzy photo to my sister, I’ll remember these pointers.

    I thought I was silly for holding my breath when taking a photo. In 2004, I received a point and shoot camera. It was so cool! But then I got blurry photos! So I started holding my breath when taking the pictures. πŸ™‚ Major improvement.

    Have a good night, Karen!

  2. camille says:

    p.s. I’m not a blog stalker. I’m a night owl.

    And….I should be reading study material, but I’d rather side track. πŸ™‚

  3. Paris B says:

    Such excellent tips Karen, and not just for phone camera selfies or Instagram selfies! πŸ˜€ I don’t do good selfies myself but I’m learning to get the hang of that shoot from above tip. Its surprisingly very flattering!
    Paris B recently posted … Hey there, Lipstick Queen! Are you Red-dy to be a Sinner or a Saint?

  4. Hafsa says:

    Ahh the good ol’ Instagram selfie! All great tips, especially the one about the car and diffused light! Car selfies usually are top notch πŸ˜€

  5. Gowthami says:

    That’s a great and wow post… πŸ™‚
    Gowthami recently posted … Beauty Poll Vol.1: How many years have you been using makeup?

  6. Teresa says:

    Speaking of the clear backgrounds thing — a while ago a friend of mine sent a link to a Trade Me (similar to eBay) auction. At first I wondered why, cos I don’t think the product was anything I’d be interested in. Took a closer look at the photo, though, and guess what was in the background?

    A giant dildo.

    (Ok, maybe it was giant… maybe conspicuous is a better word. But yeah. Dildo.)
    Teresa recently posted … It took me a while to find a replacement for my day bag. In my…

  7. Valencia is my favorite filter! You forgot FIND YOUR LIGHT! Light is more flattering from the side or above so you are tilting into it rather than a harsh over head light (even it’s the sun)… I love some of these tips though!
    The Beauty Glow recently posted … July is a really impressive month for Birchbox!

  8. Kim says:

    These are great tips, Karen. I was taking pics of a display at work a couple of weeks ago and accidentally reversed the view. My phone was low and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw my Jabba the Hutt chins! Definitely NOT a flattering angle. HAHA!

  9. Charisma says:

    I love it when you wear, more on the nudes and warm pinkish brown blush and lipsticks. It enhances your natural Asian beauty! Less is more πŸ˜‰
    Charisma recently posted … FOTD: Fyrinnae Pride 2013

  10. Ruchita says:

    Great tips, Karen. Thanks! A lot of my selfies are taken in the car – usually in the morning before work b/c that’s when my hair and makeup is still “fresh”.

    What would we do without digital cameras? I remember taking pictures and then waiting a few days for the film to be developed. The good ol’ days. πŸ™‚

  11. Agata says:

    That’s a fun post. My husband always yells at me for taking selfies (he knows a lot about photography and is really great at it) because he says it always changes the angle and makes your head look like you’re on a stick, lol. It is true I guess but sometimes it’s just easy when you want to capture your make up or check if it looks ok πŸ™‚

  12. Shikha says:

    A great post! Selfies are such a big problem and then on top of it so many people take such beautiful candid shots usually due to someone towing after them. But for ppl like me it is not possible to have someone shoot you each n every time πŸ˜› I end up takin 20 plus pics and on good days get 5-7 good ones and on bad days nada….*sigh*

  13. Danielle says:

    This is a great post, Karen! I’m terrible at taking selfies. But I realize my mistake is that I only take about 2 shots lol. I need to be less lazy about it and take more photos.
    Danielle recently posted … Recipe: Cream of Cauliflower Soup

  14. Miss Tariq says:

    Karen, This is my most favourite posts of all those in which u advise about daily techniques to make a person look lovely πŸ™‚
    I love all the poses and pictures ;)U look pretty!
    The last two are my utmost fav! Anyways,
    I would like to request u to give a tutorial on the look of the last photo with the blue eyes πŸ™‚ Please.
    Thanks, Much love <3.

  15. Lejdi says:

    I adooore your posts, absolutely adore them πŸ™‚ You’re really a great blogger, it’s always fun to read what you have to say πŸ™‚
    Lejdi recently posted … Pantene Pro-V Curl Shaping Cream & 24h Frizz Fighter

  16. Monica P says:

    Awesome tips – thanks for posting! Sometimes my self photo’s are so bad .. ugh, I just give up .. and figure it’s just not my day .. lol.

    Monica P recently posted … Casual dinner in the desert

  17. Aida says:

    Amazing tips, Karen! I love all your selfies, particularly the last one, so cute and funny πŸ™‚

  18. Wendy L. says:

    Fantastic post with lots of great tips! I can say I learned something new today!

  19. Where we you the other day when I had a million failed selfies on my phone and not one good one in the lot? Haha. Thanks for this post. Very helpful!

  20. Angel says:

    I’ll try your tips, but I’m convinced I’m just unphotogenic. Seriously. My head always looks like a giant beach ball LOL! I’ll try your lighting tips. I went years hating my photo being taken, I’m missing from many family event pics cuz I was such a brat about it. Now that I’ve lost loved ones, I could slap myself for being so cranky about it. I would cherish more photos with my mom.

  21. Chelsea says:

    Love the tips!

  22. Denise S says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been trying to take a good selfie using my cell phone camera and it always looks like I’m looking down. But after reading this I’m going to try using my Canon power shot camera.

  23. Iris says:

    Thank you for the very helpful tips. I’ve been reluctant to post pictures of myself even to my locked FB or Livejournal, where the only current photos of me are posted. I’ve told friends I’d share more photos but haven’t gotten around to it.

    I haven’t been to the DMV in a while but my work ID card photo actually looks great. It looks airbrushed, and I’m wearing just the right amount of makeup. I was like “whoa” when I saw it.

  24. Jasmin says:

    Lovely tips Karen! Did you use a dslr on the top most pic? Most of your photos in your blog are sharp and nice πŸ™‚
    Jasmin recently posted … Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette Giveaway

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jasmin,

      Thank you. Are you also a photography lover? I think I probably did use my Canon T3i for that one and must have had it on a tripod because it’s too husky to hold for regular selfies. That’s the problem with DSLRs. They’re big! The iPhone is just so handy.

  25. Lauren says:

    Great post! I hate taking selfies as I can never get it quite right, and I always seem to make my face look really wide and odd!

  26. Sarah says:

    Great tips! If you have an iPhone, here’s a fun factoid that will help with the shaky pics. The trigger on the camera activates (actually takes the photo) when you take your finger OFF of the button, not when you touch it. So, you can place your finger (or thumb for self-view) on the button and hold, exhale like Karen mentions, and just lift your finger. Ta-daaa!!

    Happy snapping!

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